Work can be stressful. Here are some tips to manage your day and cope with anxiety.
Is there much worse than trying to get through your work day and having an uneasy stomach, shaky hands or worried thoughts? Here are five tips to help you find quick relief, followed by some tips for long term help.
1. Try a REALLY deep, slow breath
Some people are quite good at this -- others think they’re doing and it never quite learned the method to get the full effect. To force yourself to breathe deeply, count your breath in (count slowly to 10 while you breathe in), hold it for about 5 seconds, and then breathe out just as slowly through pursed lips. Just one breath can be helpful - if you take 5 or 10 you might want to take a nap! (If you have breathing struggles, skip this one and try #2.)
2. Ground with your senses
When you notice your senses, you activate the calmer part of the brain and calm down the freaked out part. I teach this through grounding stones and you can get full instructions for that here. Short of that, you can really simply just notice your feet or hands. What do you feet feel like in your shoes? What do your shoes feel like on the ground? Simply bringing your awareness to the physical here and now works for about 75% of my clients who try it.
3. Try a mindfulness app
I like the Stop, Breathe, Think app because it’s free, and has you check in with your emotional and physical feelings. It then asks you to label your emotions (a good practice anyway) and then recommends a guided meditation based on how you’re feeling. Many of my clients also use the app Calm, although that does cost a bit of money.
4. Try the Leaves on a Stream meditation
Leaves on a Stream is a calming exercise used in a specific type of therapy called ACT. I suggest this technique for clients experiencing high anxiety and trauma symptoms in their day-to-day. For many it works like a charm! It’s basically imagining your thoughts floating away and getting smaller and smaller and less powerful. I like to also imagine people I’m struggling with also floating away! There are several variations to this meditation but here’s one set of instructions I like. You can also find this on YouTube.
5. Stop being so hard on yourself
If you’re experiencing high anxiety, you might be beating yourself up about something you did or didn’t do, or dealing with a core belief like feeling you’re not capable at work. I bet if you asked friends they would question some of your thinking. It is possible what you’re beating yourself up for isn’t really based in fact? Could something different, and more helpful, actually be true? Consider questioning the accuracy of your thoughts.
This last point is where anxiety counseling can sometimes be very helpful. We all have core beliefs along the lines of wondering if we are capable enough, lovable, or worthy enough. Sometimes it can be hard to heal these beliefs on our own because we’re our own worst critic, and we’re too close to the issue. An outside person experienced in guiding you through healing might be helpful. You can learn more here about treatment with me (Jennie) at The Counseling Palette.
Meanwhile, take a deep breath and remember this work day won’t last forever - you’ve got this!